Liberals call for Bill Henson photography exhibition to be closed

The WA Liberals are pushing to have a photography exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia closed.

The Art Gallery of Western Australia is hosting a retrospective of 23 works by acclaimed photographer Bill Henson.

Shadow Arts Minister Tony Krsticevic commented on the current exhibition in estimates on Tuesday describing the images in the exhibition as sexually explicit depictions of children that normalised child abuse and child exploitation.

Krsticevic said it should be closed down until the gallery provided more warnings about the nature of Henson’s works, suggesting the images were basically child pornography.

“The fact that there are no warning signs to parents means that they could accidentally stray in there and their children could be exposed to inappropriate material,” he said.

“I think the exhibition should be shut down until consultation can take place and if it does go back up then warning signs should be displayed.”

Yesterday the member for Hillarys, Peter Katsambanis asked Colin Pettit, the state’s Commissioner for Children Young People, if he had been consulted over the exhibition, and if he was prepared to take action over it’s content.

Katsambanis said he had viewed a summary of the images and had found them to be “really disturbing”. Former Premier Colin Barnett said the photography was of a high quality but the images were clearly of a child under the age of sixteen.

Attorney General John Quigley said if Katsambanis was concerned about the images being offensive he should report them to the police. The member for Hillarys said he would be raising the issue with Police Minister Michelle Roberts.

When the exhibition was announced Gallery Director Stefano Carboni expressed his delight that the works would be seen in Western Australia.

“Bill Henson is one of Australia’s most renowned artists. The works in this exhibition are animated by an individual beauty while projecting a universal meaning. After their initial successful showing at the National Gallery of Victoria, I’m delighted that AGWA can share the works with Western Australians,” said AGWA Director, Stefano Carboni.

A spokesperson for the gallery said there were appropriate warnings at the entrance to the exhibition.

“The exhibition features mild nudity, landscapes and images of monuments in museums,” the spokesperson said. “A content advisory notice concerning nudity is in place at the entrance of the exhibition. Only one local complaint regarding content has been received to which the gallery is responding.”

Henson was previously at the centre of a censorship debate when in 2008 police seized several of his works prior to an exhibition opening.

The following month police declared they would not prosecute Henson for publishing indecent images because the content of the photos in the exhibition was mild. On that occasion the Australian Classification Board suggested that works should have a PG rating and children under the age of 16 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

OIP Staff

21-09-17 21:43 When first published this article contained an error, Peter Katsambanis was described as the member for Joondalup. This was incorrect, he is the member for Hillarys. 

Support OUTinPerth

Thanks for reading OUTinPerth. We can only create LGBTIQA+ focused media with your help.

If you can help support our work, please consider assisting us through a one-off contribution to our GoFundMe campaign, or a regular contribution through our Patreon appeal.

Become a Supporter→     Make a contribution→ 


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,